King’s Cross, you say? This is the bit where I get defensive about my neighbourhood. Despite the presence of one of London’s poshest hotels, a concert hall and a shedload of restaurants, bars and galleries, the image of the area as somewhere you wouldn’t want to dwell long enough to buy a newspaper, let alone eat dinner, just won’t die. However if you steel yourself and venture beyond the fast-food purgatory of the station and Euston Road you shall be gastronomically rewarded. Here are the Eel’s picks of the most ethically-enlightened spots:
Food producer: Alara Wholefoods (1)
110–112 Camley Street N1C 4PF
Possibly the world’s most right-on muesli factory? Its roots go back to 1975, selling waste fruit and veg from a squat in North London. These days Alara produces 200 kinds of muesli, most of it organic. A true believer in urban food production, the factory boasts a permaculture forest garden, vineyard, community orchard and community composting facility. Their products sell in most organic and wholefood shops. The factory isn’t generally open for public visits – so check with them first.
Food-growing space: Skip Garden (2)
Pancras Road (behind German Gymnasium), NW1
Vegetable garden with a view of St Pancras International, where everything is grown in converted skips. It’s part of Global Generation’s network of gardens in King’s Cross.
Market: Sourced (3)
St. Pancras International Station, Pancras Rd NW1 2QP
A daily produce market in a train station is apparently unique in the UK. Produce is mostly seasonal, British and from small farms. I once took a big UFO squash from Sourced to Paris – it had a great time.
Food retailer: Vx (4)
73 Caledonian Road N1 9BT
This small shop run by the (not so) Secret Society of Vegans, sells an eclectic range of vegan cakes and pastries (including those of Ms Cupcake, see p7) and groceries, in what can only be described as a ‘punk’ environment.
Bar: Camino (5)
3 Varnishers Yard, Regent Quarter N1 9FD
Takes the best of Spanish wine and cooking by region and then executes it through tapas, including the mother of all free range meat: jamón ibérico de bellota.
Pub: Queens Head (6)
66 Acton Street, WC1X 9NB
Good selection of real ales and food ingredients sourced from markets and suppliers based in and around London.
Food-growing space: The Calthorpe Project (7)
258-274 Gray’s Inn Road, WC1X 8LH
Established in 1984, this community garden is a much-needed oasis for King’s Cross. It runs numerous food-growing and cooking courses, sells plants, and its salad is sold at the nearby People’s Supermarket.
Restaurant: Itadaki Zen (8)
139 King's Cross Road WC1X 9BJ
It doesn’t get more righteous than an organic vegan Japanese restaurant. Delicately fried tofu, brown rice, mixed grains, all manner of soya derivations and intriguing puddings.
Cafe: Niven’s (9)
157 King's Cross Road WC1X 9BN.
An attractive little larder cafe on this infamously tough strip.
Jellied Eel Stockist: Hub Kings Cross (10)
34b York Way N1 9AB.
If you’ve lost your copy and want to pick up another, pop into the following fab place: www.kingscross.the-hub.net.
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Flounder and chips (40)
The butcher’s banger (39)
Thin end of the veg? (39)
The Hunger Game (38)